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Authorities: Mitchell man fatally shot with own gun by police officer

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In this Feb. 19 photograph, Charles Birds Head walks from the Pennington County Jail to the county courthouse in Rapid City. (AP file photo)

Witness says Rapid City suspect had blood on self, was agitated

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Witness says Rapid City suspect had blood on self, was agitated
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

RAPID CITY (AP) -- A woman testified Wednesday that the man standing trial in Rapid City for manslaughter had blood on him and was agitated when she saw him about the time of the slaying.

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Miranda Brown Bull took the witness stand in the trial of Charles Birds Head, 30, who's charged with felony manslaughter in the Jan. 7 killing of Eustacio Maruffo, 33, at the South Dakota Rose Inn parking lot.

Birds Head also is charged with commission of a felony with a firearm and possession of a controlled weapon.

KOTA-TV reported that Brown Bull said Birds Head was staying with her. A police report says she told detectives that Birds Head told her he had to leave to go "make a quick hundred." She said he returned later upset, and he had blood on him.

Brown Bull said that when she asked Birds Head about the killing after hearing about it on the news, he replied, "He's dead." Brown Bull said she then asked Birds Head for the gun, which she hid at her aunt's home. Brown Bull said she later gave it to police, along with the bloody winter coat that Birds Head had been wearing.

During opening statements on Tuesday, Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo said Birds Head took a sawed-off shotgun with him when he went to the parking lot to deal drugs, showing he was ready to kill, while defense attorney Jamy Patterson told jurors that Birds Head was a victim of a setup and acted in self-defense.

Vargo said Birds Head went to the motel to pick up a teenager who needed a ride and to sell $100 worth of methamphetamine. Maruffo was shot when he attempted to "punish" Birds Head for his actions, the prosecutor said.

Birds Head was beaten twice in 2012 during drug transactions and told police that he needed to protect himself, according to Vargo.

Maruffo did reach over the girl in the passenger's seat to punch Birds Head, but Birds Head responded with "force beyond what was needed to counter simple assault," Vargo told the jury.

Birds Head could face life in prison if convicted. The trial is scheduled to last into early next week.

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